Ellen Bee


An HMS American Cultures collaborative production


Ellen Bee

Elizabeth Van Lew (1818-1900), a wealthy white abolitionist from Richmond Virginia, and Mary Elizabeth Bowser,(1846-?) the freed slave of the Van Lew family and educated in Philidelphia, used the code name of Ellen Bee in their work as Union spies. The plauge in Bowser's honor reads: Freed slave of the Van Lew familyand indispensable partner to Elizabeth Van Lew in her pro unionespionage work, she worked at the Confederate White House gathering and passing on military intelligence to the Union through Van Lew to General Grant.

Offline Source:
Lyons, Mary E., and Muriel Miller. Branch. Dear Ellen Bee: a Civil War Scrapbook of Two Union Spies. New York: Atheneum for Young Readers, 2000. Print.